Judicial review: Tamil group will challenge Foreign Secretary for complicity over war crimes

Judicial review: Tamil group will challenge Foreign Secretary for complicity over war crimes

A leading group of Sri Lankan Tamils have announced that they have instructed lawyers to issue a judicial review of the decision by Foreign Secretary William Hague not to declare a Sri Lankan military official ‘persona non grata’.

The Global Tamil Forum has instructed firm Birnberg, Peirce and Partners after Mr Hague refused to declare Major General Prasanna Silva unwelcome in the UK. The Major General is now the military attaché to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London.

The Tamil group alleges that the Major General was involved in the systematic attacks on Tamil civilians between January 2008 and May 2009. At that time he was the senior commander of the Sri Lankan army.

The law firm have released their letter confirming that they will represent the group in this case.

“The Global Tamil Forum and other organisations have made representations to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) with credible evidence of the offences allegedly committed by Major General Prasanna Silva during the war in Sri Lanka,” it reads.

“However, hitherto, the FCO has failed to declare Maj Gen Silva and his family personae non gratae.”

The letter notes that the FCO has the power to ask a foreign government to waive diplomatic immunity so that they may be arrested and questioned. If the foreign government refuses to lift their immunity the FCO can request that the individual is withdrawn with their family and declared ‘persona non grata’.

The Foreign Office has responded by saying that it has received no direct correspondence relating to the legal action by the Tamil group, but has confirmed that it has had communications with several NGOs who allege that the Major General committed war crimes.

The FCO has said it takes such allegations seriously and has advised the NGOs to produce credible evidence which should be passed to the Metropolitan Police.

The Global Tamil Forum said in a statement: “Every alleged war criminal of Sri Lanka must know that the Tamils will not rest until justice is served for the terrible crimes they are alleged to have committed.”

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